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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  September 20, 2012 2:00am-6:00am EDT

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administration when he first heard in working he took a trip to europe and invited to see president kennedy. afterwards was asked what did you tell the president? >> he had a lot of president -- problems in europe. -- said he already knows that. with the eurozone crisis, the south china sea, it is a storm of issues. then kissinger said, you need to be useful you don't tell him the problem for the indication of what to do about it. he cannot ruminate about your definition of the problem. . . say that
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regardless of what you feel about a budget and a budget point of order, we are talking about a technicality to kill a bill to help unemployed veterans at a time that they desperately need help, because they are coming back from iraq and afghanistan and they can't find work, and until we come out of the recession and the recovery is under way but veterans have a
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higher percent of unemployment and especially veterans under age 24 have an even higher percentage of unemployed, and so what we have here is a piece of legislation to give an unemployment cushion for veterans for at least a year until they can find employment in the private sector, and this is employment to do things that we need since so many of our national resources such as parks, such as emergency responders, such as firefighters, such as police need help. look at all the unfunded things that are deteriorating in the national parks. this would be an opportunity to
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employ those veterans and employ them up to a year. everybody knows that this makes common sense and it's the right thing to do, and what's happening is the folks on that side of the aisle because we are in an election and because this happened to be a proposal coming out of the white house and is brought to the floor by this senator from florida, they're not going to support it and they're going to kill it on a technicality by denying us 60 votes in order to waive the budgetary point of order. now, that's the bottom line, that's what's going on here, and it's sad and yet that's what's happening. just look at the votes in the last week. here we passed the motion for cloture on the motion to proceed by 95-1.
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doesn't that tell you something? and then we had the second procedural vote, it was 84-8. all we need is 60 votes to get over this hurdle and to get to the bill and then probably pass it by unanimous consent because everybody agrees with the substance of this. it's clear that commonsense legislation that has bipartisan support is getting thwarted in this chamber, and that's because we all know how important it is to help our veterans find work as they return home. now, does the senator from oklahoma want to ask a question? you know this senator from oklahoma knows my respect for him and my personal friendship
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for him, and i admire the senator in the courageous stance, but the senator would understand that i respectfully say that in a need so great as unemployed veterans, this is not the time to draw a technical line on a budget, and i would earnestly and respectfully request of my friend that this be one of the considerations that he would make. would the senator want to engage in any conversation, or i will go on and just -- mr. coburn: i would just like to ask the president of the senate if we could have a real back and forth debate on this, with you controlling the time. i have no difficulty with that. but one of the reasons i came out is i don't agree with the substance of this bill, and i don't want you to make a
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statement from the senate floor that everybody does. we have six veterans' job training programs that nobody has oversighted. nobody knows if they work. mr. nelson: what i would suggest to my friend -- and he knows that he is my friend -- if he has a difference of opinion, i respect that and i want him to share that. i'd like to go on and just complete my very brief statement here, and then for the senator to state whatever it is. the unemployment rate among veterans returning from iraq and afghanistan was hovering around 11%, and for those unemployed veterans in the age 24 and less, it's even higher. we have taken steps to combat this problem. this past summer, we passed legislation that will help veterans get federal
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occupational licenses when their military training matches civilian requirements. that made sense. that made common sense. as a matter of fact, we got that through the senate unanimously, and that was signed into law, and that was to say that a veteran gets all of this specialized training, and they ought to be able to utilize that training without having to go through all the training and the re kind of licensing. we could do that -- and we passed what is now law -- we could do that in federal law where there is a similar kind of requirement. now what's in this bill is to do that for the state occupational requirements, to take a veteran who has a military discipline, a
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specialty, and as that veteran is applying for a private sector job that happens to be covered by state law on the occupational requirements and requirements of licensing, that that is a consideration instead of the veteran having to go through all of that again. now, that just makes common sense, and that particular idea was offered by the senator from arkansas, senator pryor, and is a part of the bill, just like senator murray, she is here on the floor, the chairman of the committee, reached out and incorporated a number -- and she can address that -- a number of the different ideas bipartisan, not just my idea, which is the one that i was talking about
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that veterans can have employment up to a year, but so many others that are incorporated into the bill that came out of committee. and so we -- we already did something about matching civilian requirements, albeit what was signed into law was just with regard to federal employ. last year also, we passed a bill that granted tax benefits to companies that hire wounded warriors. and, of course, you know what inspiration that all the rest of us take from the wounded warriors. the senator and i from time to time go to bethesda to what used to be called bethesda naval, now is the combined all-military
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services walter reed. i just -- every one of us that goes out there and you suddenly see these veterans coming in on these new kind of computer controlled prosthesis where they can actually walk and run even when their leg has been blown off above the knee, it's -- it just pulls at your heart and yet you're so glad that technology has moved. but those same ladies and gentlemen need jobs, and until the recovery is complete, they're having difficulty. that's why i filed this bill. and the chairman of the committee and the ranking member have done their best to work across the aisle. veterans don't care to hear about why we can't help them. they don't care to hear about
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technicalities of a budget point of order. they want our country to support them in the way that they have supported us, and that is an obligation. a lot of us in this chamber have served in the military, and it's ingrained, i think, in every senator here that we have an obligation to those who have served this country. this effort here today that we're going to vote on in 20 minutes has the broad support from veterans and police organizations, the disabled american veterans, the military officers association of america, the national association of police organizations, the american legion. they all support it.
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the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america have called and pleaded for its immediate passage. and they know why. because their veterans need, and they need to know that congress has their back. so i just make a plea to the senate, we just need a few votes from that side of the aisle to get to the threshold of 60 to waive the technicality of the budget point of order. and, madam president, i would yield the floor and i would be looking forward to my friend's comments. mr. coburn: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. nelson: the time is controlled over here. i would reserve, madam president, the final seven minutes for the chairman of the committee. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. coburn: my colleague from florida raises some good points about our desire, about us wanting to help our veterans. i don't think there is anybody here that does not recognize the significant sacrifice. as a matter of fact, it wasn't long ago that the 45th from oklahoma lost 17 people in afghanistan and hundreds wounded. the real question is how do you help them the best? how do you really help veterans? you know, we're going to have plenty of opportunities to always say there's a reason to not do the right thing for the long-term best interests of our country. we have never found ourselves in the predicament that we find
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ourselves in today in terms of our financial exposure. the real risk to the veterans that have jobs today -- which nobody is talking about -- the real risk for them, because when this thing goes down -- and i'm talking about the financial collapse of this country. when it happens, those that have jobs that are veterans, they're going to lose them. so there could be a no more noble cause than to make an exception for veterans, except that's not what the senate does. we make an exception every time, every time. here's the question for my friend. under what system of values, honor and integrity did these veterans serve?
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the highest and noblest of honor and integrity. without a doubt. they put their life on the line so i don't have to, so my adult, mature children in their 30's and 40's don't have to. the difference is is what they put their life on the line for was to ensure that the freedom and liberty and vibrancy of this country goes forward. and we're taking a little pocketknife to one of the legs of the three-legged stool with our actions and slowly nibbling the support of that leg. we're taking it away by our very
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action. mr. nelson: madam president, i'd like to respond to my friend. mr. coburn: if i could finish? we're going to say that the financial condition of the country doesn't matter. we're going to say that it doesn't matter if the $1 billion we're spending a year are already on veterans job training programs. it doesn't matter. we're going to say here's a year's program of jobs for 20,000 veterans and it's going to trump everything else. you know, you wouldn't have any objection from this senator if you actually really paid for this, one; if you didn't violate paygo, and you really did it in
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a way that oversighted the president's job training programs that we had, and you really did it the way that matches the integrity and honor of our veterans. we didn't do that. now, we played games. we played games with the budget rules. we played games with paygo. we didn't do any oversight. we didn't even have a hearing. there was no hearing on this bill. you took senator burr's suggestions which were commonsense, and applied it broadly across the government. but we didn't match the honor and integrity and valor and purpose. and when i meet with veterans in town hall meetings, i ask them why they serve. you know what they tell me? because this is the greatest country the world has ever known, and they want to keep it that way. what we're doing today doesn't
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keep it that way. it doesn't keep it that way. it perpetuates the same problems that have created the very, very dangerous situation that this country's in. so when we make a claim that everybody agrees with this bill, i just want to say i don't agree with the bill. there's a whole lot of ways to help veterans that is better than that, that gives them a permanent job. we passed the g.i., the post-9/11 g.i. bill; right? you can get paid a stipend while you go to college to learn a new skill, the same as a noncom officer. you get paid for the books and tuition and everything else, so you can become whole as you learn a skill. we have the capability for studies while we're in the military. we have six separate job training programs that we're
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spending $1 billion a year on. the best way to help veterans is to fix this country's economic situation to create opportunity, and they'll fly, because they've already proven that they have the initiative, the strength, the moral courage, the integrity and the valor to accomplish anything that they want to accomplish. so i'm in disagreement with my friend. i think we have a political device in front of us, and i'm going to be very interested to see the character of the senate on whether it succumbs to the parochial and political over the best long-term interests of the country. and if it does, it just proves that the senate needs to be changed to truly address the real problems for the country.
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that's what it's going to prove, regardless of the outcome. do we have the character? do we match the valor, honor and integrity of the people who serve this nation in the armed forces with our willingness to sacrifice our political careers to do what's in the best long-term interest of the country? they set the example for us. the question is whether or not we'll follow their example. i yield to my friend the floor. mr. nelson: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: madam president, before the time that is reserved for the chairman of the committee, i just want to respond to my friend -- and he is my friend -- from oklahoma by telling him why i think he's wrong on this issue and tell him by way of a compliment to him. because the senator from oklahoma and i, the senator from florida, had worked together --
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he being much more prominent in the efforts to bring the budget under the control a year ago. in having discussions across the aisle, often private discussions, what started as a group known as the gang of six that grew, blossomed into what in effect became a group of 45. and i think that was the number of us that stood up in the senate press gallery in the summer a year ago -- it was the summer of 2011 -- and said that we want add big, $4 trillion-plus budget deficit. and we pointed out ways that we could get there. indeed, what this senator has said, i have heard other republican senators -- and i will name one -- who we feel
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almost and have said very close to identical things publicly. and that is senator lindsey graham. and he stated it on "meese -- "meet the press" a couple of months that the way you get there is reducing revenue through reform of the tax code, by going after all of the tax preferences which have ballooned out of control since the last tax reform bill in 1986 that this senator, then a young congressman, voted for, to the point that tax expenditures, tax preferences are now $14 trillion over ten years. a lot of them have outlived their usefulness. a lot of them, their special interests or sponsors would tell you we wouldn't want that if we
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can have a certainty of a lower rate. and, therefore, we have said many times on this floor and in public statements, you can take tax preferences, restrain them, use that revenue to do two things: lower everybody's tax rates, including corporate. streamline the tax code by getting all this underbrush of preferences out of the way. and then use the rest of the revenue to lower the deficit. now, i suspect that the senator and i feel very similar about that issue. and so when he talks about reforming the spending process, the fiscal process, which includes the revenue process of this country, then i think we have grounds for significant agreement. and i would hope that we're going to address that in the
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lame-duck session that starts. my plea today is that we don't take it out in this particular case on something that can be done immediately for veterans in need returning home from iraq and afghanistan. mr. coburn: would the senator yield for a question? mr. nelson: of course. mr. coburn: through the chair i'd ask the senator how did he vote on the tax extender package coming out of the senate finance committee? because that's the real test of whether or not you want to reform the tax code. if i recall, you voted for it and i
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